Boats in Sutton Harbour, Plymouth

Understanding what the seas give us is central to their future management


New website highlights an innovative approach to a sustainable future for our seas.

As global environmental changes and human activities are impacting our oceans like never before it is increasingly important to ensure effective management of our seas. Until recently ocean management has focused on the impact that we humans have had on the marine environment. Now in a new approach the tables are turned and more emphasis is given to appreciating the impact that the marine environment has on our societies and economies, enabling us to put a value on marine ‘goods and services’. The research findings of PML led VECTORS, an EU funded marine research project, are now available on a new website, which includes more details of this approach and a broad range of other findings. Their application aims to improve the management and governance of marine environments across Europe.

Increasing our understanding of the impact people and their activities have on the marine environment is still essential to minimising future degradation of the seas, but it is equally important to examine the implications of devaluing the goods and services that the oceans provide us. The marine environment provides multiple functions that benefit society, from the physical provision of food and energy to the psychological benefits of spending time near or on the water. By understanding these ‘goods and services’ we can begin to put a monetary value on them, which provides a context to compare economic costs and gains, such as the cost of managing these environments effectively with the economic benefits they provide.

VECTORS has not only highlighted the importance of this Ecosystem Services approach for the marine environment but provided the building blocks for applying it. These will support future research and provides tools for marine managers to examine the economic costs and benefits of a particular site. This knowledge will inform decision making and ensure trade-offs between activities, such as energy generation and closure of fishing areas, can be appropriately compared.

The VECTORS synthesis website provides global access to the project’s research results in an accessible and readily available format. This is to ensure that the knowledge VECTORS has generated, such as application of the Ecosystem Services approach, is available for stakeholders, marine managers and policy officers so that they can use it to support marine management decisions, policies and governance.

The website presents individual research findings of the project with detailed summaries of the outcomes and clear links to related research tasks and findings. It allows the user to navigate easily between related subjects and findings. The interconnected design of the site demonstrates the truly integrative and multidisciplinary nature of the project but also allows users to target specific subjects, policies or locations that are of interest to them.

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